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Public option likely to be removed from healthcare overhaul

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Chances for a so-called “public option” — under which the government would set up competitors to private health insurers — appear to be dimming.

With recent hard-edged comments by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who avers that he will vote to filibuster any bill that contains a public-run health insurer, moderates have been meeting to hammer out a deal. And a new alternative, according to Politico, has emerged.

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Under the Democrats’ new plan, the government would create a national health insurance plan similar to those offered federal employees. It would replace the so-called “opt-out” version of the public option advocated by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

“Seems to me it would be in lieu of the public option,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) — a public option opponent and former insurance executive — is quoted as saying. He added that Reid’s “opt-out” idea “is no longer being talked about.”

The plan would be run by the Office of Personnel Management, which currently manages the federal plan offered to members of Congress. All of the insurance plans would be offered by not-for-profit private healthcare companies.

A Democratic aide quoted by Politico suggested that the new proposal could be used to sway progressives, who might be “tricked” into believing that a government plan run by private companies was a public option.

“The proposal under consideration can be said to provide access to the same type of insurance plans that members of Congress and federal employees get. People think of that as government health insurance; progressives could portray this in the same vein,” a Democratic Senate aide was quoted as saying. “But moderates can simultaneously point to the fact that the government isn’t the payer and say competition was enhanced without growing the government.”

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Even so, the opt-out public option probably wouldn’t have been a public option after all, even though it would have been more damaging to insurance company’s bottom lines. In October, the Washington Post reported that the public option was likely to be managed by private insurers.

“The public option would effectively be just another insurance plan offered on the open market,” the paper said. “It would likely be administered by a private insurance provider, charging premiums and copayments like any other policy. In an early estimate of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that fewer than 12 million people would buy insurance through the government plan.”

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WATCH: CNN justice reporter discusses next steps in Roger Stone case

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On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," justice correspondent Evan Perez walked through the next steps in the sentencing of President Donald Trump's former campaign strategist Roger Stone, following a week in which the president and the Justice Department appeared to intervene in the case.

"We know that the president's longtime confidant and friend Roger Stone, supposedly he's going to be sentenced later this week," said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "What is the latest we are hearing?"

"The latest is that the judge overseeing this, Amy Berman Jackson, has scheduled a conference call tomorrow to discuss some of the things that went on, and so many things that happened last week, Wolf, including four prosecutors who quit the case," said Perez. "She has yet to even acknowledge the fact that those four prosecutors are no longer there. So, for now, it appears he is going to be sentenced this week, and he has requested twice for the judge to declare a new trial, and we don't expect it is going to happen, and certainly, tomorrow, we will get to the first indication of her reaction to what went on at the Justice Department last week."

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Americans arrive home from virus-infected cruise ship

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More than 300 Americans rescued from a cruise ship quarantined off Japan because of the new coronavirus arrived back in the US Monday for two more weeks of medical seclusion, as concern rose over passengers who dispersed around the globe after leaving another ship in Cambodia.

The COVID-19 virus death toll exceeds 1,700 in China, where it has infected more than 70,500. Elsewhere, hundreds more have been infected and the virus has sparked panic buying, economic jitters as well as the cancellation of high-profile sporting and cultural events.

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WATCH: Nicolle Wallace breaks down ‘the case against William Barr’

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MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace on Monday broke down "the case against William Barr" as controversy continues to envelop the Department of Justice.

"Republicans and Democrats who have served in the Justice Department for the past 12 presidents are today calling for William Barr's resignation as our country's attorney general," Wallace reported.

Wallace read from an open letter signed by 2,000 former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials.

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